The Time is Ripe: We meet Fruit N Juice
“…It took a while to dawn on us that we had never seen a woman DJ play out in Sheffield at an event…”
In a nightlife scene awash with male DJs, promoters and general seriousness, the timing couldn’t be riper for an all-female, all-fruity, and all-feminist arts collective to come along and shake things up. Enter Fruit n Juice, launching on November 1st at the Harley. We caught up with founders Mim and Mad to talk feminism, diversity and inclusivity in the Steel City dance music community.
Hey Fruit n Juice! Can you tell us a bit about yourselves for anyone that’s new to your collective?
Mim: We met on our first day of university, where we lived in the same halls. We’re now in third year and have lived together ever since. Maddie’s tall and I’m small, and other than that we’re pretty interchangeable. Except Maddie wears ugly shoes.
Mad: Yeah, we’re the same person really. Apart from style – my look is very depressed but sexy Guy Fieri, and Mim is a little French boy who expresses himself through colour. Also, she’s pineapple and I am cherries.Tell us a bit about the inspiration behind Fruit n Juice
Mad: It originated as an idea for a feminist club night. Me & Mim enjoyed going out a lot in first year to see DJs, and it took a while to dawn on us that we had never seen a woman DJ play out in Sheffield at an event. So I think it was at the start of second year when we had the idea to start a club night where we would support women DJs, in order to redress this imbalance. We wanted to normalise the idea of having a woman behind the decks. There are also other obvious problems with the nightlife scene that we wanted to counteract, like sexual harassment, which sadly most of our friends have experienced at some point. We are determined to make our night a safer space for women and queer people. One of the measures we’re putting in place to achieve this is to have a few girls on the night wearing Fruit n Juice badges, who people can talk to if they have any problems. We will also have zero tolerance for harassment and discrimination of any kind – we are so ready to kick people out for that kind of misbehavior.
What made you want to include the queer community in what you were doing?
Mad: The more we planned the night, the more we realised it would also be a queer night. Mim and I both identify as part of the queer community and we feel there is solidarity between women and queer people, as both are often marginalised in the nightlife industry. So both the feminist and the LGBTQ+ aspects are of equal importance to us.We hear you’re going to be doing a lot more than just club nights too. What else have you got planned?
Mad: Mim is of a more arty persuasion, so over the months Fruit n Juice has developed into a more general arts collective. We have some exciting non-musical events in the pipeline! We also would like to do non-club events so that we can be inclusive of under 18-year olds.
And how about the juicy name, what inspired that?
Mim: In primary school I was in a class of 21 boys and 9 girls, which meant us girls ended up pretty sassy. We invented a game to play at lunch time, long before I had even heard the word feminism. Every time my friend had the snack called ‘fruit in juice’ in his lunch box we used to sing this song; the lyrics were ‘fruit in juice, fruit in juice, girls always win. Fruit in juice, fruit in juice, boys always lose!’ And the game basically consisted of me asking the boys questions they could never know the answer to like ‘How many centimetres long is England?’ and asking the girls really easy questions like ‘What colour is the sky?’. Basically, the girls always won. So, when we were thinking about names, the sassiness of 7 year old me and my friends and our ridiculous game seemed like perfect inspiration!Your first bookings, Manara and Mina, have some pretty fruity sounds to bring – ranging from Bollywood to dancehall. Is there a particular sound Fruit n Juice and your residents want to go for?
Mad: We’re tailoring each night to our headliners so we’ll probably be covering an eclectic range of genres at our future events. We’d like to do themed parties in the future, such as a Latin night. In terms of a ‘sound’, I think that will develop naturally as we go on. We want to differentiate ourselves a bit from other nights in Sheffield so we will probably lean towards the garage/UK funky spectrum of things, which isn’t being covered much at the moment. But the nights we enjoy most are the ones that aren’t restrictive in terms of genre, so you can expect to hear everything from hip-hop, house, reggaeton, disco, funk, rnb, pop and bass. There probably won’t be much techno as it’s quite serious, which we at Fruit n Juice are not! Also, expect to hear a healthy dose of Rihanna at all our nights.
We’re also really looking forward to seeing performances and entertainment from Steel City Sirens and Petite Lame, who’ll be doing burlesque and drag performance. How and when did you find them?
Mad: Petite Lamé is the drag persona of one of my oldest, most wonderful friends, Will. He has been doing drag for a few years and now does performances in London – we’re so lucky to have him up in the North. In his words, his drag can be described as ‘a mixture of glamour and gore – it’s about not being able to afford high fashion so you go to China and buy it all fake – and it kind of shows in a fab’ way. Oh and goth-y as well! He’s also the funniest person I know so I can’t wait to have him on the mic. Drag is something we sadly see a shortage of in Sheffield, but we hope that having Petite Lamé performing there will encourage locals to come in drag. It is a fabulous scene that we would love to support!
Mim: Steel city Sirens embody a lot of what Fruit n Juice is about – girls being proud of their bodies and having fun with their sexuality. We want Fruit n Juice to be a fun and accepting space and we think having performers there that are unashamedly nude and womanly would encourage that atmosphere.
“…Mim and I only represent a small, privileged section of womanhood. We want our nights to be diverse and for ALL women…”
The event is also wheelchair accessible and you’re hoping to turn the toilets of The Harley gender neutral, was being able to do this important to you when choosing your venue?
Mad: This is incredibly important to us. Mim and I only represent a small, privileged section of womanhood. We want our nights to be diverse and for ALL women. Having wheelchair access is a no-brainer. And if we are calling ourselves a queer night it is also essential that we provide gender neutral toilets.
Ahead of your launch night, you’re also taking over room 3 at NLR’s Interactive Halloween Party on the 27th October. What sort of spooky sounds and happenings should we be expecting?
Mim: Nice Like Rice put on amazing events that Maddie and I have always admired. Halloween is no exception, so it’s a huge privilege to be part of it. In terms of the spooky vibe, they have gone all out – with interactive performances from scary actors and creepily themed rooms. Amongst all this creative frightfulness there will be our room, doing what Fruit n Juice does best, being funky, sassy and tacky! The clash of these two is going to be hilarious!
We can’t wait to see it! It’s great to see Fruit n Juice collaborating with other collectives such as NLR already and bringing empowerment and celebration of everything femme and queer to their events, have you got any more in the pipeline?
Mad: We are currently planning an exciting project with Pretty Pretty Good. We’re going to be organising DJ workshops for girls, hopefully as a regular thing. This is very important to us as we’d like to create a community of girls in Sheffield who can DJ. We’re also hoping to collaborate with other women-run collectives such as Peachy, Girl Gang & Pity Like.How about future bookings – any artists you have your eyes on?
Mad: If we told you that, we’d have to kill you.
We’ll move on then! Can you tell us a bit about what events you have in store or is that all top secret too?
Mad: Can’t a girl have any secrets? We like to come across as mysterious.
Well we’re excited to see what you have in the pipeline! It’s been lovely talking to you both, we can’t wait to see Fruit n Juice’s debut!
Mim and Mad: Thanks Louise, love you!
Words: Louise McDermid
Art by Anna Mills
Photos: Will Cocker (except Petite Lamé, which is by London Boudoir)